Selling late season Alaska
It is conventional wisdom that the last sailing of the Alaska season (roughly mid-September) is not the ideal time to head into the Inside Passage and many travel agents will reflexively steer clients to earlier dates.
However, there are reasons some of your clients may be interested in sailing then. They may want to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or maybe they know that there are some great deals to be had at this time. Or perhaps this is simply the time they can get away from work or other obligations at home.
So don’t dismiss late season Alaska out of hand. Remember, too, that there are some definite pluses to going at this time.
If you have clients who are ardent shoppers, the last trip of the season can offer some spectacular deals. Most shops in Alaska ports close up once the last ship has sailed for warmer climes and “Everything Must Go!” signs are everywhere. A savvy bargainer can increase the already large discounts without too much effort. And if you have cash in hand, you might even be able to knock off an extra ten or twenty bucks.
Discounts and deals can crop up unexpectedly. On a recent sailing we stopped into Tracy’s Crab Shack in Juneau (the locals agree it’s the best spot in town)and because they were closing up for the season that day we got double portions of everything we ordered. What would have been a very expensive king crab leg feast became the best bargain of the trip.
True, the weather can be dicey in late season Alaska as it was on our trip, but ironically “bad” weather can work in your favor. Bears don’t mind a little rain and on one rain-soaked excursion we spotted five, including a mother teaching her two cubs how to negotiate trees over a swollen stream.
Best of all, a gale in the Gulf of Alaska rerouted our ship to Tracy Arm Fjord, one of Alaska’s true treasures. It was the first time the ship had visited here during the season and the crew were as excited as the passengers.
The weather can also cooperate. An unpromisingly rainy morning in Juneau turned into a delightful day, making a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier and, later, up the aerial tramway at the dock a real treat.
So the bottom line is: Don’t write off late-season Alaska. As always, be sure you know your client to avoid disappointments. Stress value and be honest about the trade offs and you’ll do just fine.
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